How to get back into Pilates after recovering from an injury

Injuries do not have to be seen as a setback. That’s something I learned from my injury. In fact, injuries make us become more precise.

  • Author: lesley.logan
  • March 21, 2021
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Recovering from an Injury with Pilates thegem blog - Online Pilates Classes

When you have an injury it can be frustrating to hear all the things you cannot do. And, there is also a lot of fear around an injury. Will I ever be the same again? How will this injury change my life? Whether you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, the truth is that injuries affect our lives tremendously. It can be hard when you are injured to do simple things around your house. I had never had a major injury setback before, not until I went for a run and broke my leg.

I had been out for a run. Not unusual for me. I ran almost every day since I was 14 years old. On this day I was running home from my Pilates studio. I had a surprise break and wanted more coffee. I was two blocks from home, I had a simple misstep and boom! I was on the ground. It felt like my leg had been shoved like a pole inside me. I laid there for a moment in shock and a bit embarrassed. It was “rush hour” and a ton of people saw me fall.

I didn’t feel any pain from the fall. Well, aside from a bit of bruising setting in. I remember bending and straightening my knee and had no problems. So I went to stand up. And I couldn’t.

So many thoughts and fears rushed in.

As a Pilates teacher,  I had taught many clients who had many different injuries. Some happened because they picked up a suitcase wrong, others playing with their kids, and several injuries that happened over time as a result of poor movement patterns. I knew inside that this injury wouldn’t stop me. That Pilates could help me….

Pilates, used to be known as Contrology. Joseph Pilates was known as the person dancers would go to see to be “fixed.” There are stories about Romana Kryzanowska going to see Mr. Pilates for her ankle injury and he focused on everything but her ankle. And in his book, Caged Lion, John Steele recounts how he went to see Joseph Pilates for lower back issues and how Mr. Pilates didn’t focus on his back.

In Pilates, as you work your entire body to work together, it’s easy to avoid the injury, strengthen the rest of the body, and the weaker muscles will become strong. In time the aches, pains, injuries either go away or become incredibly manageable.

For my own recovery, I did everything I could with my fractured Tibial Plateau. I started the next day. And after 6 weeks of no weight-bearing, not only had my fractures healed 2 weeks early, but my body had maintained so much of its strength that recovery was faster than my doctors even anticipated.

Our bodies are susceptible to injury when there is weakness or tightness. If you are too flexible you’re as susceptible to injury as if you’re too tight. By focusing on the engagement of our muscles throughout the Pilates practice, you not only strengthen the body but you’re getting what science has shown to actually be the most beneficial stretch – active static stretching.

For example, when you are doing “Single Straight Leg Stretch” on the mat, you’re not focusing on how much you can pull the leg over your face. That would just be a static hamstring stretch. You would feel a bit of relief in your hamstring, but when you’re done working out, it will likely go back to its original tightness. Instead, you are pressing your leg into your hands as you pull on it. Thus activating the back of your leg while you stretch it.

If you have an injury or have recovered from one, but you know your body doesn’t move in the same way, Pilates is there for you. Pilates will meet you where you are. And instead of spot training the injury, it will work your body around it.

You will learn how to move your limbs from your center. And while that might not seem very impressive or necessary, picture yourself reaching up for a box of cereal on a shelf that is just a bit higher than your reach. You can reach up from your upper traps, overstretch your shoulder, lean to one side, and if you’re lucky only contort yourself long enough not to cramp up or sustain a shoulder injury. Or, you can reach your arm from your back, feel your legs reach down in order for you to lift up, and grab that box from a place of strength.

Injuries do not have to be seen as a setback. That’s something I learned from my injury. In fact, injuries make us become more precise. And, that’s exactly what happened to me. As I write this to you I’m stronger than I was before my injury and have no issues with it.

I know it’s because of Pilates.

Are you ready to strengthen what is weak, tighten what is loose and do life better?

xx~LL

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Categorized as Blog

By lesley.logan

Lesley Logan, NCPT, is the founder of OnlinePilatesClasses.com, the first free online catalogue of Pilates exercise tutorial videos, where you can also find weekly online mat classes and workshops. When not teaching from her studio in Los Angeles, Lesley can be found traveling the world leading Pilates retreats, or offering Pilates business coaching to studio owners and other instructors through her private mastermind group. Connect with Lesley on instagram @lesley.logan or through the contact page on this site.

Loving this Pilates exercise tutorial? Take weekly online Pilates mat classes with OPC Teachers.
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8 comments

  1. Thank you Leslie. I just finished my in studio classes to become an instructor. I finished those classes on Sunday and then Monday morning I fell going down some wonky camper steps and bam. I have a trimalleolor fracture. Going to to surgery today (Thursday)for plates and screws. I will be non wt bearing for a couple of months. A co class mate sent me this website for encouragement. You’ve given me hope!!!

    1. Omg Stacey, I’m so sorry for this fall you had. I hope you’re healing is going ok. And please remember you are so strong. And that you have Pilates to support you. Work what you can and omit what you can’t (for now). xx~LL

  2. I have been practicing Pilates for 8 months now and it has changed my life. Sadly I just suffered a Tibia Plateau Fracture and going in for surgery in 2 days. I want and need to know how and when I can return tonPulates to help with my PT. My whole body thrives on Pilates exercises. Thanks in advance

    1. Hey MaiLin, I am so sorry to hear about your injury. UGH! I’ve been there. I didn’t have to have a surgery for mine. But as soon as you can feel like you can be safe going to a studio or laying on the ground you can do a lot of the Mat work and cadillac/tower work without using the leg that is recovering. For example I did Single Leg Stretch on the mat but didn’t bend my knee more than I was allowed. I also didn’t put weight on it. I wouldn’t recommend doing classes during your initial recovery. But what I did was start with the mat and go exercise by exercise to see what I could do.

  3. Skiing last weekend and have now suffered a tibial plateau fracture that sounds similar to yours— non displaced, cracked but everything has stayed in place, and non operative (luckily). I am so sad to have to pause my Pilates. This site has given me hope though and plan to do what I can at home! When did you start to return to classes using a reformer/carriage?

    1. Hey Devon, ugh I’m so so sorry! You shouldn’t have to pause your Pilates thought! I mean, yes, I wasn’t able to put weight on my right leg at all. But, I did a ton of Mat, and I still did the 100 on the Reformer, coordiantion, rowings, etc. Anything that didn’t put weight on my leg. It was amazing and my doctor was so impressed with how strong my entire body remained. So, 1) rock the mat! Ive got tons of mat classes and you will just skip, shoulder bridge, thigh stretch and push ups for sure. Everything else see how it feel. I didn’t pull on my shins I pulled on my thighs etc. Focus on what IS possible and you’ll find you have a ton you can do and not affect your healing. I was back on my right leg in 8 weeks. However, the first few days it was really hard to walk on my leg. not painful at the injury just your body gets used to your leg not being there. Hope you’re able to keep a mat practice for yourself durng this time!xx~LL

      1. I qualified as a Pilates instructor in December. 3 weeks into my weekly Pilates classes and I sustained a tibial plateau fracture that required 10 days in hosp with surgery and plates and pins. I’m 5 weeks post injury and have gone back to teaching – in a wheelchair with a friend assisting. starting physio soon and your own experience has encouraged me as I was/am really worried!

        1. hey Shannon, ugh I’m so sorry! I’m glad you have a friend to help you continue to teach. And that you have a physio soon. We’ll have a workshop on OPC during Summer Camp that is all about Knee issues. If you strengthen your muscles around your knee you’ll get back to the life you had! xx~LL

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eb 3 online pilates classes

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SUCH A TEASE

ONLINE MAT & REFORMER PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

Teaser is probably one of the most photographed exercises in Pilates. Which makes people think it's a "peak pose." But, it's anything but! It's simply another layer to your Pilates practice. This week we will acknowledge how each exercise contributes to your ability to do Teaser (someday) and then how Teaser teaches you where to get curious in your practice.

On the Mat we will use light weights for one round of Teaser as they can be helpful for those still adding into their practice.
No props on the Reformer.

See you in class,

xx~LL

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light weights and a Mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a Reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

UP, UP, & AWAY

ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

We are all going to feel like Super Humans after this month!!

Whenever I’m in a hard exercise (for me) where I’m holding myself up with my arms and reaching my legs away I picture myself with super human strength!!! I can do ANYTHING! It makes me smile and helps me stay STRONG.

This month our exercise is Up Stretch and when you think about it - reaching your legs away and staying strong over the carriage may feel a lot like flying!

We’ll be focusing on stabilizing our strong cores while staying equally balanced in our arms and legs. We are giving you some amazing building blocks by merging strength and stretch in all directions. You are going to get a little bit of everything that you can use to connect to your Up Stretch (and even your Roll Up and Knee Stretches Off).

Chair: Please have a foam roller and a balance pad available. We are going to challenge your balance safely.

xx-LL

GATHER ROUND

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

We gather good things in circles…friends, flowers, pie! So let’s get our circles on! In this week’s Mat and Reformer classes we’ll be focusing on how the size and shape of circular work changes how we feel an exercise. We’ll even be adding some circular movements along the way! You won’t need any extra props and please, have your box for the Reformer class.

See you in class,
Tami

MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, and a mat!

>> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, box and a reformer!

>> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

ROW ROW ROW YOUR BOAT

Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

This week we will focus on all things Rowing! How do the other exercises help our rowing series and how does rowing influence the others! Finding the arm/back connection throughout the class is how we will Row Row Row Our Boat to the finish line!

Light hand weights needed for the Mat class!

See you in class,
Mindi

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, light hand weights and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    STAND BY ME

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    The key to longevity is being able to get down to the ground and up again with as little assistance as possible. In this weeks class we are going to focus on how to stand in your feet no matter where they are in space.

    On the Mat we will have a playful ending that Joseph Pilates would do!

    The Reformer we’ll end challenging ourselves standing on our carriage. (Options to do the exercises off the Reformer too!)

    No props needed.

    See ya in class,

    xx~LL 💋

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.

    LOOK MA, NO HANDS!

    Online Mat, Reformer, Cadillac & Wunda Chair Pilates Class Descriptions:

    We’re going to focus on the muscles that help us get up/down to a chair, toilet, in/out of a car, and to the ground without the use of our hands to help.

    As we age, we can lose strength, flexibility, mobility in these leg and core muscles which results in us using our arms and hands to get up and down.

    Let’s keep these bodies as young as we can by practicing getting up and down with only our legs, our center, and our strong back.

    Reformer: No props needed
    Cadillac/Tower: Reformer box
    Mat: Theraband
    Chair: No props needed

    See ya in class,

    xx-LL 💋

    HANG 10

    ONLINE MAT, REFORMER, CADILLAC & WUNDA CHAIR PILATES CLASS DESCRIPTIONS:

    Grip strength as well as upper body strength plays an important role in so many different exercises throughout the mat and all apparatus. Our grip can influence the connection from our wrists - to our arms - to our back. And building strength in our chest and upper back can help us connect more to our center in every exercise.

    All month long we’ll explore the feeling, the strength, and the position of our hands and upper body to see how our exercises change with a little extra focus. We’ll also play with ways to gain more strength and awareness in our chest and upper back to create even more connections to the exercises.

    Props:
    Chair - short pole* and a foam roller for balance
    *A thicker pole or roll down bar size might feel nice, but no worries you’ll find your connections no matter what you have on hand!
    Mat: a pole
    Reformer: No props needed
    Cadillac: No props needed

    See ya in class,
    xx-LL 💋

    I LOVE ROCK & ROLL UP

    Online Mat & Reformer Pilates Class Descriptions:

    Finding some love for Roll Up and Open Leg Rocker isn't easy! But, these two exercises unlock the potential for so many other exercises. And what we don't like we often need. So, let's dive into what we need to rock our Roll Ups and Open leg Rockers and see how that changes the rest of our practice in the meantime.

    Mat: Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband
    Reformer: have your shortbox pole near by

    xx~LL

    MAT EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, Magic Circle, Pole or Theraband and a mat!

    >> Wondering what mat I’m using? You can find out more here.

    REFORMER EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Your awesome self, short box and a reformer!

    >> Wondering what reformer I’m using? You can find out more here.